Fertility Options for Transgender Individuals
Fertility options abound for transgender individuals – both women and men. And, including fertility options as part of the holistic journey from male-to-female, or female-to-male requires a long-view approach.
This is particularly poignant if hormone therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery will be utilized. This forward-thinking approach takes future relationships, life partnerships and family options into the equation so that smart, fertility-preserving decisions occur before long-lasting or irreversible changes take place.
Fertility preservation for transgender men and women takes many forms, ranging from sperm and egg freezing, to embryo freezing, sperm/egg/embryo donors and gestational surrogacy options. Knowing your options early on, and taking proactive measures to preserve your ability to have a biological child is a very empowering step in your gender transition journey.
Transgender Individuals Are Wise to Keep Fertility in the Decision-Making Mix
The journey of the transgender individual – physically, mentally and emotionally – is more of a marathon gauntlet than a sprint. It requires acceptance of oneself and carefully laid plans as the transition from one’s birth sex to one’s identified gender progresses.
Questions or conversations about fertility, or even the desire to have children someday, are often pushed into the background as more immediate matters are handled on a day-to-day basis. This is unfortunate because, in many cases, the sooner action is taken to preserve your sperm, eggs, ovaries/uterus, etc., the better chance you have of preserving your fertility options down the road.
Sooner is Often Better When Preserving Fertility Options Through a Transgender Transition
It’s our hope that fertility preservation becomes an integral part of the conversation as doctors and legal professionals (and the public at large) assist their patients, clients, friends and families through the gender transitioning journey.
Here are some of those options available to trans men and women:
Freezing sperm samples is a good idea if you’re a transgender woman planning to use estrogen therapy and/or remove your male genitalia. By freezing your sperm now, before testosterone levels diminish, you have the best chances of preserving healthy sperm samples, which can be used later to conceive a child with a future partner, egg donor or gestational surrogate.
Individuals planning to bank their own sperm should read, Sperm 101: Do This, Not That, to learn more about enhancing sperm quality prior to providing samples.
Similarly, transgender men can freeze and store eggs before they begin testosterone hormone therapy. By preserving your eggs now, you eliminate the need to reverse your hormone therapy later on (which can be incredibly challenging on many levels, both physically and emotionally). Read, Considering Egg Freezing…?, for answers to some of the most FAQs about the process.
Unless you have a strong desire to carry a baby via pregnancy, preserving eggs allows you the opportunity to be a biological parent and to make a complete transition should you choose to surgically alter birth anatomy.
Gestational carriers and/or surrogates
Depending on whom you partner with down the road, or whether you choose to have a partner at all before becoming a parent, gestational carriers or surrogates are frequently part of the LGBTQ+ family building equation. If you’ve preserved your sperm, a gestational carrier and/or your partner’s egg can be used. Or, perhaps you use donor sperm and your egg to pursue IVF…the options abound.
Donor eggs, sperm and embryos
Finally, donor eggs, donor sperm and embryos are also available. When paired with IUI, IVF and/or a surrogate – you have the option to be biologically, as well as emotionally, involved with the pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Interested in learning more about the future of your fertility as a transgender individual? Contact us here at the Reproductive Resource Center and we’ll be happy to explain your options in greater detail. We’re proud to assist the LGBTQ+ community as they take charge of their fertility rights and enjoy the miracle of family building.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.